Plot: What’s it about?
Audiences love to be scared. Well maybe not all of them, but I’d say the vast majority of people who see a scary movie do so because they like to feel that rush of being frightened. And it works otherwise they’d stop making horror movies, right? With 2007’s Paranormal Activity, the current of horror changed somewhat as it brought horror into the home. That’s not to say that horror movies hadn’t done that countless times, but with home surveillance equipment we could actually “see” what was going on during the night. It somehow made the viewing experience a bit more personal than a masked killer or a monster. No doubt the success of the Paranormal Activity films spawned a new breed of horror film and Devil’s Due is the latest in a line of “copycat” films. To the filmmakers’ credit, they did create a pretty unique marketing campaign for this film: they created an animatronic baby that was controlled remotely and would cruise around the streets of New York. It would then, unsuspectingly, rise up and spit, vomit and give passers-by the finger. The video racked up nearly 5 million hits in one day and probably set the bar a bit too high for the film. At any rate, let’s move on…
Samantha and Zach McCall (Allison Miller and Zach Gilford respectively) have just been married. They jaunt off to the Dominican Republic for their honeymoon all the while Zach feels the need to document the entire experience (not just the wedding and honeymoon…everything) via video. Things are going well, but on the last night they get lost only to be assisted by a taxi driver (Roger Payano). He takes them to the party to end all parties and the two awake in their hotel room the next morning – hungover. Once they get back home, Samantha learns that she’s pregnant and while not unhappy about this, she’s been using birth control. As her pregnancy progresses, we start to sense some odd things from her. She’s got a passion for raw meat (the scene in the woods does this justice) and little things here and there start to go wrong. It’s ultimately seen that her child isn’t the product of Zach, but a much more evil force. But…whatever could it be?
There was potential with this movie, for sure. But as I mentioned in the first paragraph, it’s essentially yet another knock off of the Paranormal Activity films. I think they were maybe going with a little bit of The Exorcist in there as well, but I can’t be too sure. I suppose any movie in which the woman seems possessed will borrow from that film. To its credit, the movie did gross double its budget (a mere $7 million), though after seeing it and reading some other reviews, I’d be surprised if Fox ponied up the money for a sequel. Still, stranger things have happened. The filmmakers, interviewed in a few of the supplements, seem pretty pleased with themselves and some of their short films (also included as supplements) are pretty entertaining. I’d suggest a rental or if you’ve not seen any of the Paranormal Activity films – see those instead as they’re much better.
Video: How’s it look?
By the filmmakers’ admission, the look and feel of the film came from a variety of cameras, even an iPhone was used in a few sequences. With that said, I’ll have to say that it’s pretty amazing how far cell phone technology has come when “professional” Directors are making movies with them. Having said that, the 1.78:1 AVC HD image looks fairly good with some scenes being superior to others. I’d credit the different video sources for the inconsistency and bear in mind we “see” the film through Zach’s eyes, which is, in fact, the camera. By and large, the image is pretty clear though some noise is present. This isn’t your typical Hollywood production, so that pristine look and feel that’s associated with so many Blu-ray’s really isn’t an issue here. It looks good, but not great (though it’s both expected and intentional).
Audio: How’s it sound?
Though the film contains a DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack, don’t expect too much here. The movie lacks any sort of score, so all of the sound in the film is either by dialogue or naturalistic effects (many of which were added post production). Vocals do sound pretty crisp and clear, though some distortion can be heard in a few scenes. Surrounds do play a part in a few scenes, notably the rain in one of the ending sequences. Oddly enough it was raining pretty hard when I watched this film, so I paused it to somewhat compare the two – not bad. Then again, the filmmakers admitted that for some of their previous projects they’d used free sounds found off internet web sites. Interesting. Like the video, the audio isn’t too terribly good or bad, but rather passable.
Supplements: What are the extras?
- Audio Commentary – The filmmakers, known as “Radio Silence”, offer up a commentary track that’s not really that full of information. I was kind of turned off by the track and after seeing them in person via the featurettes, they’re as annoying as they look. Nothing was learned about the shoot and a few of the scenes that I found interesting were just them laughing. I’m surprised I made it through.
- Deleted Scenes
- Radio Silence: A Hell of a Team – The “team” is Matt Bettinelli-Olpin, Tyler Gillett, Chad Villella, and Justin Martinez and they give us their “origins” as to how they came to be.
- Director’s Photo Album – Really nothing more than a photo gallery.
- Ashes to Ash – It doesn’t really explain anything, it’s just a bird that explodes and leaves a pile of ash.
- The Lost Time – Two presumably Dominican Republic children stumble upon the “cave” lair and beat feet out of there. Not before we see a snake spontaneously combust, of course.
- Roommate Alien Prank Goes Bad – Two guys (who we later learn are part of the brain trust that created this movie) prank their roommate wearing “alien” sunglasses. It’s at this point that my wife asked me “what does this have to do with the movie?” “I have no idea” was my response.
- Mountain Devil Prank Fails Horribly – The same quartet is now on a mountain top and are attacked by a bunch of bat-like creatures. Hilarity ensues? Uh…no.